'Super parents' at risk of mental health conditions, says study
Article date: 10 September 2014
Mums and dads need to be aware of the risk they are being exposed to when trying to take on too much in the earliest stages of their baby's life.
That's according to new research conducted by experts at the University of Kansas (KU), who have identified that both parents should pay close attention to the state of their mental health during this time.
The perinatal period, which covers the weeks leading up to and after the birth of a child, is considered to be vulnerable time for mothers and fathers, with scientists identifying anxiety, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and bi-polar disorder as conditions that can be linked back to having a baby.
KU sociology doctoral candidate Carrie Wendell-Hummell said: "Childbirth itself is a life change and a life stressor, so actually there's far more evidence that those risk factors are the cause, more so than hormones."
She suggested that many parents "aren't getting the support they need" and many are at risk of succumbing to the pressure associated with worrying about the ongoing challenge of tending to their child's needs.
Among the common sources of concern are the ability to provide quality childcare and safe housing, while the stress of operating in a low-wage environment - or one where they feel as though their jobs are not secure - is also a contributing factor to cases of deteriorating mental health.
Ms Wendell-Hummell said she found many middle-class mums and dads were trying to "do everything" to perfectly balance their work and home lives, causing them to feel like "failures" if they were not successful on this front.
She added that mothers in particular tended to hold these feelings in, which could result in long-term ramifications on their wellbeing. Meanwhile, fathers struggled because they were generally ignored more when it came to how they were coping, as people typically tended to focus on mum and baby.